Decca Records will release Keep Smiling Through, a new album featuring never-before-heard and reorchestrated versions of classic songs by Dame Vera Lynn, on November 6.
Its appearance will be marked on Remembrance Sunday, November 8, with communities of care home residents across the UK. They will unite in isolation to take part in a virtual mass singalong, The Smiling Sessions, presented by the registered charity Shapeshifter Productions, of Dame Vera’s renowned wartime hit “We’ll Meet Again.”
A moving recital
Keep Smiling Through also features one of the beloved singer’s last recordings, a recital of the moving poem “High Flight.” Written by a World War II fighter pilot, it’s read by Dame Vera to a musical accompaniment. The album also includes two bonus tracks, a specially-recorded medley featuring the Alex Mendham Orchestra & the Brighton Festival Chorus, and a new version of the festive staple “White Christmas.” The set also features the Royal Air Force Squadronaires, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and The D-Day Darlings.
Dame Vera Lynn, one of the most treasured of all British entertainers ever since the war years, passed away on June 18 at the age of 103. Her death produced a vast outpouring of affection for a singer who came to represent the nation’s most resilient and generous qualities.
The Smiling Sessions normally host regular singalongs in care homes across the UK, which have been taking place virtually during the coronavirus lockdown. The weekly sessions are broadcast into care facilities, which have been gravely hit during the pandemic, to help residents stay connected and to bring entertainment and relief to a troubling time. The sessions can be joined here.
Dr Arthur Cassidy, C.Psychol, chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, says: “I cannot highlight enough the profound significance of The Smiling Sessions initiative in its attempt to improve the overall physical psychological health and well-being of those residents in care homes and sheltered housing.
“The Remembrance Sunday singalong will undoubtedly enrich the brain processing speed of all residents and will potentially influence in a positive way, their mood regulation state and both episodic and semantic memory processing. The resonance of ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ together with the colorful visual effects of fellow isolating members of their generation on screen, will facilitate happy memories of events in their entire life span and add meaning to the quality of their everyday lives.”
The full Keep Smiling Through tracklist is:
1. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” featuring the Raf Squadronaires
2. “We’ll Meet Again” featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & the Brighton Festival Chorus
3. “My Son, My Son” featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
4. “White Cliffs Of Dover” featuring the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
5. “As Time Goes By” featuring the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
6. “Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye” featuring the Raf Squadronaires & the Brighton Festival Chorus
7. “Close To You” featuring the Raf Squadronaires
8. “High Flight” featuring the Raf Squadronaires
9. “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” featuring the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
10. “When You Wish Upon A Star” featuring the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
11. “From the Time You Say Goodbye” featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
12. “White Christmas” featuring the D-Day Darlings
13. Medley (“White Cliffs Of Dover” / “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” / “We’ll Meet Again”) featuring the Alex Mendham Orchestra & the Brighton Festival Chorus